Head circumference at birth and intellectual disability: a nationwide cohort study

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BACKGROUND: Intellectual disability (ID) is a prevalent chronic disability affecting up to 1-3% of the general population. Small head circumference at birth, a surrogate measure of foetal cerebral growth, may be a risk factor for ID. We aimed to investigate the association between the full distribution of head circumference at birth and ID.

METHODS: This cohort study was based on Danish nationwide registries and included all Danish singletons born alive from 1997 to 2013. Follow-up ended at October 2015. The data was analysed using a Cox proportional hazards regression model adjusted for a large number of potential confounders.

RESULTS: The cohort comprised 986,909 infants. Neither microcephaly nor macrocephaly at birth was consistently associated with the risk of ID. Within the normal range of head circumference, larger head circumference was associated with a decreased risk of ID (HR per standard deviation increase in head circumference z score 0.85, 95% CI 0.81-0.88). The association detected within the normal range was consistent in all sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Intrauterine brain growth restriction may be a risk factor for ID.

TidsskriftPediatric Research
Sider (fra-til)595-601
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2020


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